Scotland: Billy Stark 'steps down' as under-21 coach

Billy Stark
Billy Stark, previously of Queen's Park, took charge of Scotland Under-21s in 2008

Billy Stark has stepped down as Scotland Under-21 coach after six years at the helm.

Stark, who previously managed Morton, St Johnstone and Queen's Park, took the young Scots from 41st to 17th in the European rankings.

The 57-year-old said in a Scottish FA statement: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working at the Scottish FA but feel now is the right time to move on."

Youth coach Ricky Sbragia takes charge against Switzerland on 18 November.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan
"During Billy's time working with the under-21s, the team have risen from 41st to 17th in the Uefa co-efficient rankings."

Under Stark, Scotland Under-21s failed to qualify for the European Championship finals but had three top-two finishes in their qualifying groups, including a play-off place in 2010.

He also took temporary charge of the senior squad in 2012 after the departure of Craig Levein and guided the team to a 2-1 victory in Luxembourg.

"There is no greater honour in football than representing your country and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to do so as a coach," said Stark.

"I've enjoyed some real highs over the years, especially winning our qualifying group and reaching the play-offs in 2010.

"I've been lucky enough to work with some excellent players during my time here and it's great to see so many of them go on to make an impact with the full squad."

The SFA pointed out that Stark also played a major role in forming its performance strategy, designed to improve Scottish football from grass roots to elite level.

Now Stark closely follows the man charged with implementing that plan, performance director Mark Wotte, in resigning.

Scotland youth coach Ricky Sbragia
Youth coach Ricky Sbragia will take temporary charge against Switzerland in Thun

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: "On behalf of everyone at the Scottish FA, I would like to thank Billy for his fantastic contribution to the Scotland national youth teams over the last six years.

"He has played a key role in the development of several Scotland A squad players during that time and has maintained a high level of consistency with the Under-21 squads.

"Billy has also played a key role in the development of the performance strategy and has helped lay the foundations for what will be a bright future for Scottish football."